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By DENNIS OTU
The human nature of the Delta State Governor, His Excellency, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori for the people of the Niger Delta Region in particular and Nigerians generally played out once again on Tuesday, August 8th, 2023 when he received members of the Senate Adhoc Committee investigating the non-completion of the East-West Road led by Senator Abdul Ningi at Government House, Asaba.
The East-West connects the South-South, South-East and Western parts of the country and Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had awarded the contract for the East West Road project late in 2006 in the heat of violent agitations by youths of the Region. But painfully its completion has dragged on for so many years and many lives have perished on the road, no thanks to it deplorable nature.
According to a report by one of the national dailies, it is a 675km dual-carriageway meant to open up the entire Niger Delta states, linking them one to another as well as with the industrialized South-West region of Nigeria, the East West Road stretches from Calabar in Cross River State to Warri in Delta State, with an additional 23.9km included by former President Goodluck Jonathan to link Calabar with the oceanic town of Oron in Akwa Ibom State.
The Newspaper added that the road was conceived to link all major oil towns, beginning from Oron in Uyo to Calabar across Cross River and the Atlantic Ocean, up to Itu and Eket (Akwa Ibom), Port Harcourt and Ahoada (Rivers), Kaiama (Bayelsa), and Warri (Delta), up to Benin. From there, a traveller to Lagos would link up Okada Town (Edo), straight down to Ore, Sagamu, and then Lagos.
The completion of the road is yet to be seen and this development is not going down well with the people.
Governor Sheriff Oborevwori is worried over the non-completion of the East-West road so many years after it was awarded. True, the Governor is not happy with the state of the road and he did not hide this when the Senators came calling. He harped on the importance of the East-West road to the economic development of the oil rich Niger Delta Region.
He told members of the Senate Adhoc Committee investigating the non-completion of the East-West Road that oil – rich Niger Delta region which produces the highest wealth of the nation should be given a better deal by ensuring that the road was completed without further delays.
“The East-West road is very strategic to all of us in this region. With what we have contributed to the nation in the past and with the region contributing the highest wealth to the nation today it is proper that attention is paid to this region.
“I want to also thank the leadership of the National Assembly for deeming it feat to appoint people of high integrity and capacity into this team.
“We are also happy about this visit because in one of our National Economic Council meetings, we have agreed collectively as governors from the South-south to work on the East-West road.
“My appeal to you is that you fast track whatever investigation and inspection you are to carry out, so that by the beginning of the next dry season, work can commence on the road.
“So your coming is a good one and I know that we will enjoy a lot of benefits if the East-West road is completed because apart from oil producing states, we also have agrarian states in this region,” the Governor said.
Senator Ningi had told Governor Oborevwori that they were in Delta State on a fact-finding mission on why subsequent administrations had failed to complete the East-West road despite the enormous funds appropriated and disbursed for the road, adding that the Committee would ascertain the level of work so far done on the East-West Road with a view to determining whether the work done was commensurate with what the federal government had spent on the road.
He posited that the East West Road was a strategic and critical road infrastructure which cuts across the South South geopolitical zone of the country, adding that the road project cannot continue to suffer unnecessary delay because of its strategic importance to the economy of the people in the South South.
“It is imperative to understand that the East-West road occupies a very central nerve in this country and the Senate felt that the road has not gotten adequate attention that it deserves over time.
“We are going to take a critical exercise of the entire stretch of the road and have some discussions with stakeholders because that road should not be in this condition that it is at the moment.
“That road shouldn’t be in that condition. We believe that there is a missing link and it is our view that this committee will be able to identify the missing link so that the road would be fixed,” the Chairman of the Adhoc Committee said.
Certainly, one cannot wait for the great relief expected to come to Niger Deltans and other road users when the East-West road is eventually completed and Governor Oborevwori who has passion for the well-being of the people will surely dance in the sun as a happy man.
Dennis Otu is the Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the Delta State Governor.